Photos by Gary Choppe
[KHTS] – Trying to raise money and awareness for Bridge To Home, which operates the Santa Clarita Valley’s only homeless shelter, Gary Choppe, president of the Choppe Advertising Group, is portraying faces of the local homeless population.
Choppe’s project, called “Souls of Hope,” is part of a fundraising campaign to support a year-round homeless shelter in the Santa Clarita Valley. It’s set for display at the Valencia Library from Feb. 22 to March 5.
“The whole idea is that we kind of wanted to show the faces of the clients that go to the homeless shelter,” Choppe said. “These people are just like you and me — all of a sudden something happens and things go south and…”
The shelter is more than a roof over the heads of those less fortunate, Choppe said, adding the project really brought the homeless problem to heart for him.
“They all need our help, support and a roof over their heads,” he explains, “many are just like us and living from paycheck to paycheck.”
Choppe, who’s also an arts commissioner for the city of Santa Clarita, said the shelter provides opportunities for those who might be down on their luck and looking to help themselves.
Choppe talked to dozens of the shelter’s clients, and also walked the wash of the Santa Clara Riverbed from Newhall to Canyon Country.
“They have these encampments and they’re just living day by day,” Choppe said. “Where do they go when (the shelter) closes?”
Officials estimate the homeless populations in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys has increased by 64 percent in the last two years, according to numbers from Bridge to Home officials.
This year, Bridge to Home is operating the Santa Clarita Valley Emergency Winter Shelter the Monday before Thanksgiving, until March 15.
It offers beds and services designed to help members of the local homeless population get back on their feet.
More than 200 residents were helped last year, but Tim Davis, Bridge to Home executive director, said that’s only a fraction of the population. The homeless population is probably around 2,000 in the Santa Clarita Valley.
There will also be a video part of the project forthcoming, Choppe said, which is still in the works. The idea is to put members of the community and their stories behind the issue, he said.
“You can’t turn that blind eye,” Choppe said, “and say that we don’t have those kinds of problems here in Santa Clarita.”
Visit the installation at the Valencia Library (23743 Valencia Blvd.) as follows: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays 1p.m. to 5 p.m.